Writings of a techie wizard
Archive: 2014‑Jan
Thu, 16 Jan 2014

It's been obvious for quite some time, at least to anyone not marinated in the ideology of climate change alarmism, that the models being used to produce the IPCC's forecasts of doom do not match reality. But now it's become so glaring that even the IPCC itself has admitted it in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) from Working Group I for its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) (hat tip: Watts Up With That ).

Actually, of course, "admitted it" is optimistic phrasing: a more apt description would be "attempted to pretend nothing is actually wrong". You have to look carefully to see the admissions; for example, as noted in the Watts Up With That post, one is in a footnote on p. 14 of the SPM (and in a font small enough that I had to zoom in to read it on my computer). Also, there is no discussion that I can find of a key point that is often overlooked when comparing the climate models to reality: the different model projections are based on different assumptions about how much CO2 will be emitted in the future, and actual CO2 emissions thus far have been similar to the most pessimistic set of models (i.e., the ones that assumed the most CO2 emissions), which have overpredicted actual temperatures significantly more than the average of all the models, which is what is usually quoted when comparing the models to actual observations. So the IPCC's admissions still don't fess up to the full extent of the problem: the model predictions are even worse than they admit.

(It's also worth noting that, despite admitting, however obliquely, that its models cannot predict future climate, the IPCC continues to fill its report with predictions of future climate. Perhaps it's force of habit.)

The IPCC report is not the only venue in which climate change alarmism is on the defensive. The Warsaw Climate Change Conference ended in November, and despite the positive spin on the conference website, the general sense was that it fell short even of somewhat limited expectations. Part of the reason for that may have been that alarmists' efforts to link any sort of adverse event to climate change have been facing increasing skepticism. The fact that the conference's educational materials lied about sea level rise, claiming that the sea level began rising in the late 1800's "for the first time since the last ice age", didn't help either. (The materials also claimed that Northern Hemisphere snow cover is decreasing, which it isn't.) And back in October, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case challenging the EPA's regulation of CO2 emissions under the Clean Air Act.

You'd think that a bunch of people who claim to be honest scientists would feel some contrition over all this. Instead, they continue to dial up the spin. One meme which has become popular is the "Hiroshima bomb" comparison, which I referred to in a recent post. The meme has now even appeared as an app that counts the "Hiroshima bombs" of heat being added to the climate. Of course, as I showed in that recent post, these numbers don't actually amount to much at all when put in perspective (and the link above gives more numbers showing the same thing). Another common meme is "denialists are harassing us"; a good recent example is this piece in The Guardian about the case currently before the Virginia Supreme Court regarding a Freedom of Information Act request for emails from Michael Mann and other climate scientists. The Guardian's position on this is interesting:

Freedom of Information (Foia) laws...were enacted at the federal level and also in many states to help insure transparency and accountability in government. They have proved invaluable tools for journalists and public interest organizations seeking to uncover information that some in government would prefer to hide. But applying these so called "sunshine laws" to academics at state-run academic institutions is something new.

In other words, governments shouldn't be allowed to hide information, but academics doing science under government grants (which are Federal grants, by the way, despite that bit about "state-run" institutions), science which is claimed to justify public policies with huge costs? Sure, hide all the information you want, no sweat. The author does helpfully explain why: forcing academics to openly share information would

have a chilling effect on the free and open sharing amongst colleagues which is essential in the scientific process.

So "free and open sharing" apparently means "not giving information to people who disagree with you". Well, it's nice to have that clarified.

But then the piece goes on to make a point that does make some sense. It quotes Michael Halpern of the Union of Concerned Scientists:

"Freedom of information laws rightly exempt internal communications and deliberations in order to facilitate the free exchange of ideas," Halpern says.

Now as a pure matter of principle, I actually agree with this--if it is limited to "internal communications and deliberations" (a distinction that is, of course, notably lacking in the article up to this point--not to mention the fact that it's notably lacking when the media is pestering the government for information, but that's another post). I'm really not interested in reading Michael Mann's private emails. I don't care what discussions he has behind closed doors or what sort of groupthink goes on in his research group--as long as it stays there.

But what I do care about, as I've said before, is scientists like Michael Mann doing bad science, then declaring a planetary emergency based on it, and then obstructing at every turn any attempt to get the details on which the science is based, to demonstrate that it's bad science. Mann hasn't just withheld private emails; he's done his best to withhold raw data, statistical methods, and anything else that could be used to check his work. And when that information finally came out, in spite of his best efforts to the contrary, it showed that his science was, in fact, bad science. Yet instead of owning up, or at least shutting up, he continues to peddle climate change alarmism.

As the recent efforts at spinning the IPCC AR5 show, this behavior is typical of climate change alarmists: the more their conclusions are discredited, the louder they shout that hey, there really is a planetary emergency--really! Cross my heart and hope to die! Why is this? Of course I telegraphed my answer in the title of this post. These are people of Heinlein's class one, who are afraid of losing their cushy position as the ones who get to tell others what to do and pronounce moral judgment on everyday activities like driving your car. If they give a crisis and nobody comes, they might have to find honest work.

Posted at 23:55   |   Category: rants   |   Tags: politics, science   |   Permalink
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